We — I — You — We

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships.

We all began, way back when, immersed in “we.” There was no separation, for better or worse, between your experience of the world and your mother’s.

Then “I” was born. Quite a stark difference, eh.

And of course, there’s no “I” without “you.” You the cup. You the lock of hair. You the voice in the far corner of the room. You the sound that evokes in me a great panic, or great relief, or both.

How do I relate to all this? A new “we” — a relationship between “I” and “you” — is born.

And that’s what we’re tending in this life, I reckon.

Though it’s the same word, it can point to two radically different points of orientation.

There’s the “we” of Unity and the “we” of ordinary, day-to-day relationships, where there is obviously a relationship but even more obviously there are two separate beings in that relationship.

There’s no merged state in this one. And that's evident: a brick dropped on your foot doesn’t hurt me like a brick dropped on my own foot.

I know, and thankfully, everything above is all the most obvious stuff in the world. But in a world where we use that word a lot — “we” — I think it’s worth inquiring into what we’re actually after, what we’re pointing to when we say that.

I write this this morning as I pontificate on some class material — which for me is increasingly inextricably linked to “life material” — and think about perspectives: “we” as both an inarguable fact from which you and I emerged, and also something we must tend, with care and ferocity, as if our lives depend on it.


(Because, of course, they do.)

Clarification, Patience and the Ocean of Yoga

Episode 46 — the first interview of Season 3 — is live with yoga-teacher-since-the-early-80s Patty Townsend.

I was struck with how Patty embodied a kind of deep silence and yet used her words well, and how she offered her experience with both humility and clarity.

We go into what teaching yoga in the States in the early 80's was like, the distinction between purification and clarification, even a really sweet — if not super disarming — tip for teachers on how to begin a class ... a home practice you can do to feel the buoyancy of your internal organs ... and heaps more.

I really enjoyed this one; hope you do too! You can find it anywhere podcasty, on the tba website.

Let's Talk About Fragility

Because we hardly would ever say that — “you are fragile” — as a compliment.

Four things that I think are important to remember here, not as an end but as a starting point (rooted in the truth as best as I can see it):

1.. The quality of fragility abounds in nature — including but not limited to snowflakes.

(Which, if you’re not familiar, is a common diss, originally of the “liberal snowflake” variety but now something that’s been taken by all sorts of groups. It means the recipient of the metaphor is not able to handle any more than a tiny amount of stress, or conflict; that they break too easily.)


.

2. And the thing is: it’s a quality. It’s not something you are or aren’t any more than you are or aren’t nice — we’ve all been kind and we’ve all been a’holes.

And it’s a transient quality, depending on all sorts of things, just like whether you are warm right now, or your bladder is full, is a transient quality. You’re not “someone with a full bladder” as a kind of permanent status. You are that until you aren’t … until you drink more water and are again …


.

3. It’s also one ingredient that co-exists with other ingredients. Even with anti-fragility — which if you’re not familiar with Nassim Taleb’s idea, I’d highly recommend googling it; it’s a really beautiful concept and, yes, it’s different than “resilient” or “robust" —



Like the bones of our body. Are they fragile or anti-fragile? Yes to both. They both “thrive on randomness, stressors and error” (an anti-fragile quality) and are harmed by too much stress (a fragile quality).



All living systems are this way, from cells to whales.

.

4. Lastly, consider back to point #1, can someone be too fragile? Of course. It’s probably really good medicine for a lot of us to buck the f’ up.

AND … and … consider the autonomic nervous system.



Consider what any animal does when in a deeply contracted fear state. That’s a fragile state. It’s very, very tender.

And sometimes you help that animal out by telling it to toughen up, and some of the time you do so by helping that animal feel safe, and watch as it begins to display more anti-fragile properties of its own accord.



(And of course we may be more than, but we certainly are, animals.)

————

Fragile systems are a part of nature’s wisdom. And from this wisdom, we also know they are not a life sentence: They can be affected, for better or worse, by you and by me.

Embodiblast Pro (tm)

Tired of being a disembodied thinker? We’ve got you covered. Time to crush your 2019 embodiment goals!

(Not seeing a video? Click here.)

ps it’s April 1. If you’re getting this via emails, it’s April 2, but hopefully you get the joke.

But! And! Brooke Thomas and I are indeed almost finished with a project that this idea has been our joke introduction for. So … this, but for real, coming soon.

Body Maps

Have a look at the images below. What do they all have in common?

520E6381-31DF-43D7-908D-C542EC8C88D1.JPG

Which of these seem more like reality to you?

If you're a body-centered practitioner, which of these do you perceive as giving you the best access to the territory of the human wilderness?

What is included in your favorite body maps and, just as if not more importantly ...

... what's not?

Michael Hamm and I are co-teaching a one-day workshop in Seattle on this very subject. You can read about it and sign up if you’d like to, here.

Begin Again

“Begin Again” — aka “after the exhale”

I

I search for and cannot find
the Great Way,
while its only-thing-here’ness
has never been more obvious.

But that’s not why I write this morning.

I want to make sense of the past —
the radical suffering,
if not mine now
then surely
someone’s
now.

The answer is always the same.
Silence.

Silence, silence, silence …

then a car horn. Then the banging
of garbage cans being emptied,
a bird of Bellingham spring,
the scratch of my pen on paper …

all excitedly announcing their place
in the family of things
,
over and over again.

II

Silence is the answer, eternal
— is that not obvious?
is it not ready to devour these words
as soon as they stop
becoming? —

but also,
at the same time,
listen.

Listen!

Your life is calling you,
and it has never, ever
been a more perfect time
to say something
back.

III

Yes, you are it.

And, you are hearing it.

Just as you can touch your leg
with your hand, and be both
the one touching and
the one touched.

Hear yourself now, speaking.

And hear yourself now,
completely silent,
in between
the words.

 

— LB

ps first interview of season three recorded today, I’ll put it up soon

On Sharing

On Sharing. Aka processing a bit from yesterday.

I often feel / think into how much I’m going to share of my personal process, out into the world.

Yesterday’s blog post was a peek into what life can be like for me. I heard from several of you — most everyone in some sort of “thank you; this is nice to read” but one listener brought up a vital point: you share something too early and it can be like dissecting something living, something in process. (I will certainly be sitting with that image for awhile.)

As far as making a rule about “do share” or “don’t share” a personal process … as many of you already know, I find it useful to feel into the “at best” and “at worst” aspects of any given teaching.

>>> And, before we begin, know that no teaching gets to be spared from this. There are no words so pure that they haven’t been used for horrific crimes, and none so vile that they haven’t helped someone at some point. <<<

At best, personal sharing says “hey, that painful thing you might be going through, I not only have gone through that in some distant past, I really, intimately get it. You are not alone.”

At worst, something happens akin to the listener’s insight about dissection. Something dies prematurely, the shadow never really gets to fully compost, to die into what it will become. (Imagine if you poked your head into a cocoon mid-process. Game over.)

And at best, not sharing is just that: really time for you to be you. For me to be me. To fully have our own experience, free of “how is this going to sound when I put it on paper for the world to see, or share this with my yoga class tonight?”

And at worst, not sharing means isolation, the kind that withers you like lack of sunlight and fresh air. It means fear and not putting anything out into the world because you feel like it’s not ready, the kind of ready that it will never be because, of course, you never really are. You do it anyway.

Digestion / thoughts. I’d love to hear your take on this, dear reader, if you’d care to share.

Thanks, love, from my life to yours, Liam

ps if you didn’t catch it, you might really enjoy the 15-min yielding to the “it’s not going to be okay” meditation

Allowing the "You Suck" Voice: an embodiment practice

Here’s a personal story from a few days ago.

I woke up feeling pretty terrible, a bit physically but a lot emotionally. I drank some beers the night before (and it'd been awhile), and slept not well and woke up stress-thinking, and hugely hearing that voice of having messed up, not just small picture, but The Big Mistake … whatever that’s about.

The intensity of that voice is amazing. It said something like “You’re a piece of shit loser and you’re never going to do anything right.”

A lot of the internal work — or awareness whatever you want to call it — I’ve been doing lately is around seeing what happens when I fully to that kind of darkness. Yielding to that very voice.

And yes, yielding meaning not saying affirmations, not making a plan for the day that involves me achieving something to prove what a champ I really am, not manipulating my energy to feel better. Any of those things may come, but first … first it means yielding, like “yes.”

Perhaps of course to you, dear reader, but I’ll explain anyway … the work is not just saying “yes, you’re right, I’m worthless” and feeling in the dumps. That’s a huge, huge pitfall here. It’s the conceptual seeds for really deep depressions.

If it’s not that, but it is a kind of yielding, surrendering the fight against that voice, then what is it?

So there I am … feeling a self-loathing belief system fully up and on board.

Step one: what’s the belief underlying this?

Of note: this answer will almost always come as a feeling - knowing, which may include but is not primarily a cognitive, verbal answer; words are not the language of the brainstem.

As in: you’ve got to feel it.

And so, in this instance, I’m the one who had to feel it: my own, intimate, very personal version of this.

So step one begets step two: feeling it.

By even asking “what is this darkness?” and honestly being interested in an answer, you’re feeling it.

And then … ?

I’m amazed — nearly every time — how radically my whole biochemistry changes.

(“How long does it take?” is a question off on the wrong foot. There’s no answer to that because the question assumes something untrue.)

It’s such a wild thing to talk about … as I know many, if not all of you in your own way, know … but how a problem can evaporate without being answered. It’s not like “oh, now I feel sunny and wonderful!”

But it is like “oh, the sting … the deep power that darkness had while it was being held down in the ‘oh god, please just go away’ place … is now a movement … and the movement has a feeling, a trajectory, a nature-based wisdom just like rivers and wind.”

This is all grist for the mill, if anything, for your own life and experience. That’s the only reason I share stuff like this.

Also, a few days I recorded this 15-min guided inquiry / meditation practice around allowing the impact of not getting what you want. That’s here if you’d like to do that practice with me.

Love, LB

A Spring Poem

“Traveler”

You are a traveler
in your body.
This you know.

Why, then, should
the weather, storms and
winter and summer drought

come as any surprise?
Oh, but let them surprise
you all the same!

How much more a delight
when the suddenness of a midnight
rain hitting your rooftop startles you

awake.

Thanks for being here, and write back anytime.
Thanks, love, LB

New Moon : Season 3

Dearest TBA Listeners ~

I am happy to announce the moon is waxing and, after four months, The Body Awake is back with an orientation to season three.

Thank you for being here. Seriously. This show isn’t a show without our collective attention, interest and love.

Love, LB

IMG_4308.PNG

On Constraint and Orientation

Lately I am gardening
what I can of my days
like my life depends on it:

pruning mostly,
and weeding,
or tending or

whatever you want to call that process whereby you remove a bit
in order to let some other bits live more fully,
where you constrain yourself in some ordinary way

so you can feel your skin rub against something,
your muscles strain against something, to let you know
right where you are, right when this is happening,

your sense of place in a world where anything
is possible, where anything is possible and
where our wildness revels in knowing what it is not.

— LB

Your Internal BS Detector

Every human I’ve ever met has one, and they’re usually exquisitely accurate.

Annoyingly accurate.

Like the million ways you try to BS yourself ... it never works, right?

Your ancestors wouldn’t have survived if it had. We’re good at sensing when something is off, for better or worse.

The Heart of a Very Physical Movement Training Class

I journaled this morning about what’s really at the heart of one of the classes I teach called “Strength, Mobility + Body Awareness” that has some very athletic, focused, we’re-going-to-work-hard elements to it.

For me, personally, what’s this about? Why are we doing this?

It’s not about being able to do pushups, or active backbends, or squats. Yet we work on those things.

So what’s at the heart of it, if not getting better at the class’ content?

.

The answer is something about cultivating loving relationships — actually loving relationships that don’t need everything to be okay to speak openly, to act boldly and listen just as boldly.

(As in: not Hollywood, fear-based "love is acting nice and listening nice" ... but like real, Jesus-turning-over-the-money-table "how dare you defile my father's house?" kind of love ... the love that can act. And yes, can turn the other cheek and give hugs, of course that too.)

.

Ultimately I reckon it’s about other people.

From Rilke and I agree, “For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”

.

So we’re preparing, in some ways, with relationships that hold a little less charge:

- a receptivity to body sensation’s subtleties

- a kindness towards what arises in those sensations

- the courage to move through helplessness, which in many of us is instilled at a very young age, and a wondrous antidote to which is intense, focused physical movement training

- our immutable, unwavering relationship with gravity

- in relationship with the thrill of success, the bite of failure, the gajillions of new neurofascial connections that are made when we embrace learning a new movement pattern, really give ourselves to the task like a toddler learning to walk

- with reality, plain and simple, as it presents itself in the body you have / are, right here and now

- and yes, some with other people in simple partnering exercises

That’s where my heart is at. For now.

And of course, if you happen to find yourself in Bellingham, WA, USA, you’re most welcome to join.

💛 LB

Muscle Tension and Imaginary Numbers

Two 16th century mathematicians are chatting at a water cooler. One says to the other “hey, what do you suppose the square root of -1 is?”

In a neighboring room, two modern-day bodyworkers (or yoga teachers) are standing at a slightly more modern water cooler. One says to the other “what protection does a tight muscle provide you? What purpose is it serving?”

Both receive blank stares.

...

Let’s start at the first water cooler.

For a long time, mathematics was based entirely in measurement of physical world, in reality as we could empirically sense it. It was considered by many the language of God, so precise and pure and unwavering.

A concept, then, like imaginary numbers — the square root of a negative number, which you could never point to in physical reality because two numbers multiplied always yields a positive result — was not only foreign, it wasn’t even a thing to be entertained. It was not.

If the question arose at all as to what the square of a negative number would be, it was likely from a rambunctious student who was quickly put in her place.

“Does not, could not, exist. Silly question. Next.”

It took millennia for the idea to be entertained enough that enough mathematicians said, “okay, we know the square of a negative number isn’t anything like anything we know. Just for fun, just to see, what if we map a portion of the infinite universe of ideas and look towards these non-existent numbers. We can sort of play and see what happens.”

Here’s the amazing kicker: these imaginary numbers became foundational in the development of electronics, and the age of computers. We wouldn’t have this technology without the math of imaginary numbers.

Did the mathematicians of the 18th century know they were mapping the precursory knowledge to build enormously complex electronics?

Crystal balls aside, probably not.

What they did know they were doing was answering questions that seemed important to them, and had been written off by others as entirely unimportant, if not a bit sacrilegious to even entertain.

...

Back to our two chatting bodyworkers.

One has just talked about how hard he worked to release his clients very tight levator scapulae, trapezius and probably even semispinalis cervicis. (Those are all neck muscles, for you non-massage-pros out there.)

His client left, happy, the tension gone from their neck.

“Did you know what role that tension was serving before you released it?” his co-worker asks.

Blank stare.

Why would she even ask that?

What would that mean? In what reality is a ton of tension a “good thing,” an intelligence and not an aberration to be relieved?

Don’t we want freedom of movement, of ROM and the ability to live a pain free life?

These questions may seem antagonistic to the choices and rationale of the first practitioner, but they’re not.

Why?

...

(Quick shout out and story cred here to Michael Hamm, former guest of The Body Awake, a co-teacher of mine, and someone who knows history — and anatomy — like no one else I know. I need to have him back on the show!)

...

Let’s remember two things about emergence of the mathematics of imaginary numbers.

One is that it didn’t negate at all the mathematics of real numbers. It just pointed to a section of the universe that was thought to be previously uninhabitable, even unmappable.

There was no threat to reality or to any mathematical truths discovered previously.

Two is that the math pioneers 🤓 were charting territory that would be *pivotal* for human civilization centuries later. And had no idea. And followed a question that seemed utterly ludicrous to the status quo.

...

Whatever your work is, keep going.

Wherever your heart calls you, keep going.

We can get better at reading maps other people have made. That’s important and has its place.

We can also, when we’re looking at questions and hear from our friends “don’t look that way; that’s dumb; there’s nothing there” ...

Keep going.

...

Have you made it this far? Alright, we’re in good company ♥️ You might appreciate, then, how this story came up:

Mike and I have been deep in conversation the past couple months about how we’re orienting to the workshops we’ll co-teach this summer. These conversations nearly always move into much broader territory, into what’s alive for us and what we feel is important to nurture into more profound health the world.

Mike put a camera in my face mid way — halfway as a joke but also to see what arose — and I got flustered trying to answer the the question he posed (which I can’t even remember now).

I was flustered at least in part because the enormity of the answer I wanted to share felt too big to put into a social media size sound bite.

And perhaps that is why, I said after the camera went off, we are spending so much time doing this prep work. When there’s so, so much that could be said, it helps to know, to root into something real, to orient towards, when the Field gets big.

(In case that’s a little abstract, to put into context: we’re talking about what kinds of dilemmas and questions we’ve faced and the students who come to our workshops may face. We began inquiring around examples of this, of okay your perception has shifted; you’re not who you thought you were or reality isn’t or whatever ... and you return to your practice. But the field of awareness is bigger than it was, which can be disorienting, so what now?)

Mike told me the math story, and I listened.

...

Love, LB + TBA

See you soon for Season 3 kick off.

Releasing the Performance: a guided meditation

Hi TBA’ers, I made this guided meditation for a client as a follow up for our session. With their permission, I’m sharing it with all of you, too. It’s about 12 min long.

[note: I’m on my headphones while recording this, and not my nicer podcasting mic, so the sound will be a little more quiet than the podcast; you’ll probably want a quiet room to listen in.]

Immersion Question

Hi Friends / Listeners / Readers ~

After years of brainstorming, I do believe the time has come for a Body Awake style immersive retreat. It’ll be study, interaction, movement, touch and inquiry. 3 or 4 days, this summer. Open to anyone who resonates with the show’s approach.

Does this interest you? If so, I’d love your input with this question: Which of the 3 locations would be best for you?

 

a) a studio space in Bellingham (90 min north of Seattle, does have its own airport)

b) a sweet little movement studio about a half hour outside Bellingham, well in the woods; people could camp there

c) Seattle

 

Each has its pro and con list for participants, especially anyone who’d fly in. I’d love your personal take on what’s most appealing.

And for those interested, stay tuned on the show. Write me back anytime, I’ll read and respond if called for, even if it takes me a week or two. Thanks! Love, LB

Three New Poems

Tres poemas nuevos, escribía en México. (Estoy aquí para vacaciones. It’s been a lovely mid-winter shift.) Hope these find you well, and maybe one of them sparks a little something for you, in you.

 

 1 — 

Awareness the soil

Attention the sun

Kindness the rain

The truth of our

    interconnectedness

    the air


Behold! Life grows!

 

 

2 —

When you have a deep question,

one that sears your heart

with its why-ness,


what you really want

is relief from the burning.

And yet, every effort


to extinguish it is a

turning away. Why do this,

when you don’t even know:


what is it?

 

 

 3 —

I wasted

So much stress in

So many hours of

So much pretending I

Knew the answer and

Knew where it was going and

Knew what was what

For everyone.

¡What a chore!

What a sad misunderstanding

About power and

About people and

About my own soft,

      Beating

      Receptivity.

 

💜  LB

Imbolc Updates

(Imbolc is an early spring celtic holiday.)

Hi Fellow Body Awake ‘rs ~

Today’s email is a little catch up for those interested which, for me, is coming on the end of a long, deep, dark winter. So, to spring’s earliest blooming on the horizon (I know how cold it is, yes:)) …


==== Projects and Teaching ====

- a new class in Bellingham starting next month: "Strength, Mobility and Body Awareness." This class has been really powerful for a lot of people (when I used to teach it in Montana). Details for first class, which'll be free, here.

- an involved, cumulative project with Brooke Thomas (of Liberated Body, and Bliss + Grit) that will culminate in a course you can do anywhere. It's been quite fun to create so far. I will proudly let you know when it's ready 

- Michael Hamm will be co-teaching what's latest and freshest for us — we're in planning stages now — in a four-day workshop in Leavenworth (in a really awesome lodge): Aug 28 - Sep 1. Last year this workshop sold out months in advance; I'll definitely let you know when registration is open.

==== Listening ====

I dig how much at least some of y'all appreciate knowing what I tune into. (I get this feedback.)

Largely, this winter, the answer was mostly: silence. I took a huge break from music with lyrics, podcasts, studying, and sat with a lot of candlelight and silence. (And what a remarkable privilege that is to have access to that material peace.)

And now, in spring's earliest stirrings in my body, I am tuning in a bit more again to words outside my own heart, most notably:

bliss and grit's latest episodes on turning towards and away from psychological pain

- the podcast scene on radio; right now I'm on their first season on seeing white

- music, again; I most notably had fun putting this playlist together on spotify for the dance I facilitated in seattle last week

==== Reading / Studying ====

I’m having another whole-hearted go at the very complex and dense (for me) Blechschmidt’s The Ontogenic Basis for Human Anatomy. I treat this book like a workout: one hour and then a rest day.

(And a huge thanks to the TBA listener who reached out with a video series on this very book as a reply to the poem I published “heart and spine” — thanks, Kit!)

Also finally diving into Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen’s Basic Neurocellular Patterns. BBC is a master in her field — including lots of embodied anatomy — from which I’ve learned a lot and continue to.

Lastly, a huge book for my heart in the past couple months — that was recommended to me years ago by Martin Keogh but I never got around to reading it until I stumbled upon it in a cabin on New Years Eve — is The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems for Men

(And of course, we’re in a wonderful season to revisit Mary Oliver. Godspeed, sensei.)

==== 💛====

And, as I’ve mentioned, a TBA season 3 is brewing and will be with us soon.

Thank you all who write me for your wisdom, your kindness and your curiosity. (Those three go so well together, no? Check and balance style.)

Reply anytime,

LB

Simple

Hi TBA listeners, here’s a bit more of a personal share, which may resonate with you in a useful way. Love, LB

What my heart feels called to share and do is changing so much, has changed so much over the past few years, few months even.

Every time I think I'm turning away from the body, it finds me again, quickly and obviously.

Though every time I move towards complexity, in a certain way, I'm aware that I feel off.

Every time I go in the direction of trying to string everything together in One Grand Unified Theory — which admittedly I love to do and has a certain beauty to it, so I'm not dismissing the grandness of it — I am becoming more aware of it often being a kind of disembodied movement for me, that it's often more about trying to prove something, a "look how clever I can be, idiots," than it is about something more visceral, more heart-centered, more pointed and easily grocked and applied. (In which, much to the horror of a certain aspect of what I know to be me, and much to the great liberation of the rest of it, I am not the center of.)

I'm feeling that hunger so much lately. And it's not simple like dopey, or simple like do this 'til you can figure out the more complex stuff. Simple like simple.

Like "here, friend. Here's something to consider, a way to strengthen and be in your body more, and / or help others do them same, so that we can do our good, necessary work of taking care of each other right now."

RIGHT NOW.

It's urgent. It feels urgent.

Urgency carries a certain presence, no?

And that said, oh man, like Aaron and team reminded us yesterday at a Holistic Resistance workshop I attended, we're in this for the long game.

And, oddly, these are not at all at odds to me. (I think many of us can see this lack of contradiction, but I'll just speak for myself here.)

They're not at odds because they're both about being with reality — which includes a pulled hamstring, the desire to get a handstand, the desire to love and be loved, the pain born of a system of white oppression that we all carry, of racism and the yearning to mend broken ties, of confusion and loss and feeling like a shmuck when all you want to do is not feel like a shmuck, the love of our planet and its trees and oceans, the joy of laughter — the desire to be with What Is.

I feel it. It's getting simpler.

Love, LB

Movement Practice: Isolation

It’s been a few weeks — and apologies, as I have been making these more slowly than the once-a-week schedule I’d said at the outset — but here we are: video three in the movement practice series.

I spend the first few minutes of this one putting these videos in the context of a regular practice, how they’re as much a taste of a particular ingredient as anything else. (And do with that information / take what you will.)

So glad some of you are enjoying and getting something out of these!

Love from the PNW,

LB

ps season three of TBA starting to take shape; stay tuned and I’m so glad you’re here, for real and thank you